Sunday, November 21, 2010
End of an Era
The weather stayed milder than expected, so we had our last church service this morning. It was very long and very sad. I think everybody cried, although we also had our share of laughter. A photographer from the local paper was there -- she happens to be the daughter of our deacon -- so I'll post a link to the story when it's up, probably tomorrow. She took lots of pictures and also interviewed some of us.
The photographer had said to me, "I wonder if my Dad will cry." He did. Normally reserved and quiet, he broke down while he was reading the Gospel -- the all-too-fitting crucifixion story from Luke, with bystanders mocking Jesus and telling him to save himself -- which meant that a lot of us broke down, too.
I felt worst for one of our older parishioners, who's been devastated by the church closing and who hung her head and sobbed during the final hymns. She was standing alone in her pew, weeping -- I think the people near her were afraid that reaching out would be too intrusive somehow -- so I crossed the aisle and held her. (Someone had done the same for me when I lost it during the Peace.) When she could speak again, she thanked me. Everyone's sad, but she seemed most bereft to me.
We were all invited to take Prayer Books and hymnals home with us, along with old church photo-directories and a pamphlet about our stained-glass windows. The vestry's putting together a memory book, and all of us will get a copy. I also snagged a Book of Occasional Services and Lesser Feasts and Fasts, along with a bag of Bishop's Blend coffee. I threw out my church key; the locks are being rekeyed next week anyway. The Diocese is going to lease out the building until economic conditions are better for a sale.
Several people I know are moving to the same parish I am, although we may be attending different services. A number of others go to the same health club I do, so I'll see them there. But I'm sure there were people there this morning I'll never see again.
Quite a few folks asked me if I'll keep preaching. I don't know. That's up to the Powers That Be at my new parish. Right now, I'm just going to lie low and work on healing.